#5 “Martha in the Mirror” by Justin Richards

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  1. City of Heavenly Fire – Cassandra Clare
  2. Every Word – Ellie Marney
  3. Skinjob – Bruce McCabe
    i.     Bloodlines – Richelle Mead
    ii.   The Golden Lily – Richelle Mead
    iii. The Indigo Spell – Richelle Mead
    iv. The Fiery Heart – Richelle Mead
  4. Silver Shadows – Richelle Mead
  5. Looking For Alibrandi – Melina Marchetta
  6. Goose – Dawn O’Porter
  7. Run – Gregg Olsen
  8. Love Letters to the Dead – Ava Dellaira
  9. Stoner – John Williams
  10. The Wrong Girl – Zoë Foster
  11. A Fatal Tide – Steve Sailah
  12. Murder in Mississippi – John Safran
  13. Elianne – Judy Nunn
  14. Being Jade – Kate Belle
  15. Martha in the Mirror – Justin Richards
  16. Shining Darkness – Mark Michalowski
  17. The Hound of the Baskervilles – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  18. Divergent – Veronica Roth
  19. Insurgent – Veronica Roth
  20. Allegiant – Veronica Roth
  21. The Messenger – Markus Zusak
  22. Fragile Things – Neil Gaiman
  23. The Mammoth Book of Angels and Demons
  24. Eleanor & Park – Rainbow Rowell
  25. NOS4R2 – Joe Hill
  26. The Gospel of Loki – Joanne M. Harris
  27. Hades – Candice Fox
  28. Last Night at Chateau Marmont – Lauren Weisberger
  29. Thirteen Reasons Why – Jay Asher
  30. Are You Seeing Me? – Darren Groth

I love Doctor Who. And, obviously, I love books. But, unfortunately, these two ideas don’t necessarily go together. Kind of like my love of chocolate and my love of garlic bread. Dipping garlic bread in melted chocolate would just ruin both of these glorious foodstuffs. Doctor Who was definitely made for the small silver screen, as opposed to literature.

Now, what makes me say that? It’s simple really. In a well-written story, the characters jump off the page. They sparkle and shimmer with vitality that the author gives them. You can envision these characters doing everything the author tells you that they are doing because they have been so cleverly crafted in the three-dimensional. Eleanor and Park‘s story haunts me still, and I read that about a week ago. And don’t even get me started on Will Herondale.

In the case of Doctor Who, the characters have already been established by the wonderful actors who portray them and the screenwriters who give them the words. So it is my opinion that the creators of these paper-and-ink stories put less effort into characterisation than they should because all of it has already been done: usually in the first five minutes of meeting a character on TV. Think about it: when we first met Rose, Donna, Martha, and Amy we knew exactly who they were within minutes of meeting them. So why would authors put any effort into building an already established character?

In Martha in the Mirror, The Tenth Doctor and the new cast of characters are all brilliantly portrayed. Quite simply because everyone loves the Doctor and can write him in their sleep. For example:

“They will admit to having two Special Agents on site, as well as Colonel Blench’s peacekeeping force. Though the troops have rather limited powers, of course. But when I mentioned that I had already made contact with you…” He opened his hands in a silent apology.
“We get this a lot,” the Doctor confided, looking round as if to check they were alone. “Becomes a bit of a bore, to be honest. But what can you do? I’m sure I can rely on your discretion. Bloke like you – you understand how it works.”
“Er,” Defron said.
“I mean Martha Mouse and Doctor Duck? Is that the best aliases they could come up with? I ask you. I despair sometimes, I really do.”
“Er,” said Defron again. “Quite.”
“Still,” the Doctor went on, “that’s what happens when you get involved in covert operations.”
Covert?” Defron’s eyes widened in something close to panic.
“Well, clandestine anyway. Well, undercover. Well – you know, we have to be discreet, you can see that.”
“Yes,” Defron said, but he sounded dubious.
“And I know we can rely on you. Told the General Secretary before we came, actually.”
“Really?”
“Oh yes. Teddy, I said…”
“Defron frowned. “Her name is Canasta. Canasta Ventron.”
“Well, obviously. But I call her Teddy. Always have. Ever since we were at school together.”
“She’s in her eighties.”
“Didn’t you know she used to be a teacher? Well, you live and learn. Anyway, Teddy, I said – Defron’s a good man. A pragmatist. A realist. He’ll understand the need for caution, for playing it close, for going undercover.”

I’m sorry, guys, that was a little longer than I expected. But how well did Richards nail Ten’s rambling circular logic? I could hear Tennant’s voice so clearly in my head, I think I may have dreamt this bit as an episode last night. And all of the other characters are distinct, if a little stock-standard: the by-the-book, bumbling bureaucrat; the resistant-to-change retired military man; the red herring bad guy; and the comic relief.  Each of them had their own unique personalities and idiosyncrasies. But Martha…poor Martha. She never seems to be quite captured. She’s just kind of there. Not much to her, really. I don’t know whether it’s simply because she came between two big personalities (Rose and Donna) and therefore gets overshadowed or because no one seems to get why she’s her own unique person, but in every Martha and Ten story I’ve read, Martha seems to just be a voice and a method of moving the plot forward. I’ll never claim to be a massive Martha fan, but even she deserves to be represented properly.

I was excited for the plot of this story, though, I must say. A castle as the setting for a war between nations? A mysterious book made of glass? The twins-who-are-not-quite-twins? Sign me up! It was a little like fantasy mixed with sci-fi. I loved it. Plus, “The Mortal Mirror”?  Gave me a bit of a thrill to see that. Why? Because of The Mortal Instruments, of course. There was the Mortal Sword, the Mortal Cup, and the, well, Clare called it the Mortal Glass, but it was supposed to be a mirror. And then it turned out to be Lake Lyn. I’m losing my point. I did, in fact, love Richards’ story. It was gorgeous. A plot to reignite a war that trickles down and effects a pair of twin girls: Janna and Tylda. It’s one of the reasons Doctor Who works so well: the big picture story always has a human element. Yes, the Doctor has to save nations and races and universes, but we always have a face to put to the consequences. It humanises, or people-ises I suppose, in the case of aliens – the story. Like when we see ads with pictures of puppies and smiling children on television instead of statistics.

The thing about Doctor Who novels is that they are basically episodes that never aired. That’s how I read them. They aren’t stand-alone stories because so much information is left out: info that we get from the show. I read them to get my Doctor Who fix, and not because they’re great literature. No one who loves these books will ever claim that. At least, I hope they don’t. These stories are great for entertainment value, but as an avid reader of great characters, these books don’t quite measure up. Because the authors seem to think all of the work has been done for them. Which is just not true.

Although, I do love the little glimpses of past episodes in these stories. I love that I know what these throwaway comments mean. It makes me feel a little special:

As the two robots grumbled on in the background, the Doctor and Martha stood in front of the Mortal Mirror.
“How come it didn’t break?” Martha asked.
“because it is not made of real glass,” Manfred Grieg told her.
“It isn’t a real mirror at all,” the Doctor agreed. “Otherwise we’d be on the lookout for a girl with a red balloon,” he added.

“He still visits my sister once a year, every year. I wonder if one day he might forgive her but there she is, can you see? He trapped her inside a mirror, every mirror. If ever you look at your reflection and see something move behind you just for a second, that’s her. That’s always her.”

★★★

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About Bec Graham

Bec Graham, 24, was born on the wrong continent. Everything from her burns-like-paper skin tone to her inability to cope with the slightest hint of a hot day suggests she should have been born under the gloomy skies and mild sun of the UK. She hopes writing will get her to her rightful home one day. Failing that, she scans the skies for a spinning blue police box, hoping to catch a lift back to the motherland.
This entry was posted in Extorting Bibliophilia, My Fangirl Life and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to #5 “Martha in the Mirror” by Justin Richards

  1. Amy Wallin says:

    Look at you go, mixing up your list. YOU WANT TO WATCH THE WORLD BURN! =) sideline – I’m reading Bloodlines at the mo.

    • Bec Graham says:

      Hahaha, I know right? Who does things in order?
      And OMG are you loving it? Have you read Vampire Academy? The next Bloodlines Book comes out on the 29th!!!!!

      • Amy Wallin says:

        I haven’t actually. I too want to world to burn. I got the gist of the books from bloodlines but I shall have to go back and read vampire academy now=)

      • Bec Graham says:

        Omg you so will. You think Sydney and Adrian are adorable…just wait for Rose and Dimitri 😀 Silver Shadows is going to be so intense. Have you read The Fiery Heart? It’s the fourth Bloodlines book…

      • Amy Wallin says:

        I’ve only read Bloodlines. I’m so excited that I’m going to be at the beginning of this! EEEE new series!

      • Bec Graham says:

        There is absolutely nothing quite as as thrilling as reading a book for the first time, knowing there’s multiple books and worlds to discover. 🙂 And you have VA too! Kinda jealous. Wish I could read it for the first time, again

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